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Friday, March 30, 2012

Router table dust extraction

My regular Mere Mortals video will be Sunday this week. So it gave me some time to shoot an update to the router table and lift, now that I've had over a week to work on it.

Missing an opportunity

I've spoken to Shop Notes (August Home Publishing) and they have no desire or interest in offering project plans online. It's kind of odd, but their reasoning is that putting plans online would cheapen them because people would be distributing them willy-nilly all over the place. (I guess people wanting to sell pirated versions haven't thought of just scanning the magazine?)

Even stranger is that they have no plans for any online presence for Shop Notes. (Other than the "brochure" that now exists.) You can't even buy the last issue (with the router lift) anywhere. Shop Notes is not even on Facebook! Is it possible for any business to survive without some sort of online component? Especially a business whose sole means of income is printed material through snail mail. Weird.

A good router lift drawing

At any rate, Bruce Beatty took the time to design and offer this SketchUp drawing of a router lift that is quite similar to the one I made for my table. If you are interested in making that lift, check it out. If you have these plans and follow along with my video, it should be pretty simple. Thanks a bunch Bruce!

Dust extraction tests

I ran a few very unsophisticated tests on the dust extraction on my router table. (And yes, every time I look at this picture I think of cookies!)

Mainly what I discovered is that most of the sawdust produced by my router lands on top of the table rather than falling below. My conclusion is that having dust extraction on the fence is very useful, but does little in the cabinet.

Of course, the cabinet could be redesigned in a way that would direct sawdust to the port. An extractor with more power than my ShopVac might also be better. As it is now, I'll just hand vacuum the inside of the cabinet.


Friday, March 23, 2012

Build a router lift

When I set out to make my router table, I decided early on that I wanted to include a router lift. It makes it easy to raise and lower the router without having to reach underneath, and bits can be changed from the top of the table.

Lots of lifts

I looked at a lot of different lifts. If you are ambitious, I highly recommend Matthaias Wandel's incredible tilting lift over at Woodgears.ca. Put simply, Mathhias is a genius. He puts a lot of work into his plans are they incredibly detailed and accurate. For $14, it's worth it.

On the other end of the home-made spectrum, Weekend Workshop on You Tube made an intriguing router lift using a car jack!

I decided to go in between these two and built a lift that was featured in issue 121 of Shop Notes magazine. It is a pretty simple concept, but was definitely a challenge to my skills. That's the kind of project I like. It works really well.

Shop Notes

I wanted to provide a link to the plan.

I contacted Shop Notes and strangely, they have no way to buy the plan online or even to buy the issue it was in! Uh, it was this year...January, 2012. Really old skool.

They have a lot of great projects and it seems to me like they are really missing the boat on this one. Even the Shop Notes web site is pretty lame. C'mon Shop Notes! Here's an opportunity to make some extra money.

So if you don't get Shop Notes and are interested in the plan, poke around a little. There are people selling back issues.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Router table follow-up

Overall, I'm pretty happy with the way my router table turned out. I still can't use it until I make my router lift. I hope to get started on that soon so I can get this thing in use. Once in a while it's fun to work on a really big project, and to me this one is huge, but I don't think I would have the patience to do it all the time. Looking forward to getting back to some smaller projects.

My wife showed me a picture she took at some store. It was a "jewelry tree". Basically, it looks like a tree without leaves: all sorts of branches. You store and display jewelry by hanging it from the branches. Rings, necklaces, bracelets...whatever. Sounds like a fun project. It was made out of metal but if I can, I'd like to figure out a way to make it out of wood. Still pondering those branches.

I wanted to post this video with Friday's video, but YouTube has been foiling my effort for some reason. Finally got it uploaded today. Just to answer a few of the questions about this build.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Router table top and fence

Really happy with the way this fence turned out. It's got a lot of weight to it, is square, and moves pretty smoothly. I found the clamping system in a great book called Woodworking With The Router, by Bill Hylton. If you want a good, basic router book, I recommend it.

Next week I plan on making a router lift. Not sure how that will go. I have all the parts and can start this weekend!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Starting on the router table fence

Quick update. Plus, I got a new switch for my ShopVac. It must have been a pretty standard size: my local hardware store had it. I love it when things I think will be a hassle work out fine!

Mere Minutes

Monday, March 12, 2012

Router table fence

I've been working on the top for my router table and once again, am going back and forth on the fence. I was originally going to add some t-slots in the top to adjust and lock down the fence. But then I saw one that employs a clamping system on the edges of the table.

I like that idea because I won't have to make those slots in the top of the table. They get filled with dust and sometimes it's hard to slide the fence if it binds in one direction. So I'm still playing around with a design.

I got the hole cut in the top to hold the insert plate. That's going to be really nice. Last week I mentioned that Kreg does not include the levelers with the plate. A little frustrating, considering they make no mention of that when you buy it. If they had a note on the package that said "levelers sold separately", that would be fine. Just let me know so I don't have to place a separate order!

I got the levelers and guess what? Kreg didn't supply 1 1/2" coarse thread wood screws that the instructions clearly state are included with the levelers. No big deal, I needed shorter screws anyway. I really love Kreg tools, but they need to tighten up some of their procedures.


Mere Minutes

Friday, March 9, 2012

Build your own router table

This router table turned out to be a lot of work! I've been planning to make a router table for quite a while and it took me some time to figure out exactly what I wanted in a router table.

I wanted it to be sturdy, and have a reasonably large work surface. I think when I finish the top, it will probably be 34" wide by about 26" deep. I also wanted it higher than most tables. This one stands at 42" high which makes if very comfortable for me.

I decided to make a full cabinet to hold accessories and bits, too. I think I'll even include drill bits.

Finally, I wanted a router table that was relatively inexpensive to make, yet have some design style to it. The frame and panel construction is pretty easy and just required a bunch of 1x3s and some 1/4" plywood.

Next week, I'll work on the top and build a fence and runner system.


Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Router table update

I'm nearly done with the router table cabinet. I think I'll shoot a separate video for the top and fence. Tomorrow I have a bunch of drawers to make and I should be just about finished with this part.

I like the way it's coming together using modular construction. I built the two side pieces and the center separately and the attached them together. It really made things easier. Since I don't have a very detailed plan, it helped me to visualize where I was going with it.

Mere Minutes

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Getting rolling on the router table

I've fussed around with sketches long enough. And while I don't have a complete plan, I sort of know what I want and just decided to dive into the router table. Today I've been making the side panels.

Mere Minutes

Friday, March 2, 2012

Table saw outfeed support

For several years I've been saving a bunch of rollers a neighbor gave to me. Since my new table saw is higher than my old one, I decided to make some outfeed supports that will sit on my workbench at the same height as the saw. I'm happy with this simple solution. I can arrange the rollers around however I might need them, and the stands are easy to store.

It's a short video, but I really wanted to make these because I am going to start building my new router table this weekend. It's crazy how many different designs I've sketched up, tossed out, then gone back to. I'll be letting you know more about it as the week goes on.